Kayak Trip to the Mokes

We had been looking forward to a five-hour, guided, kayak/snorkel tour to the Mokulua Islands off of Lanikai since before we arrived here, as it was our Christmas present to each other. We embarked on this adventure last Thursday, and it was well worth the wait.

Check out our video here, and keep reading below for more details.

We checked into Kailua Beach Adventures and met Matt, our guide for the day. We were a group of six, including Matt, and everyone was excited for our trip. After a brief overview of the route we’d take and a quick “intro to kayaking” demo, we set off.

Once launched into the ocean, we gathered together and paddled out toward Flat Island (appropriately named) and turned right toward ‘The Mokes’, which is what the locals call the Mokulua Islands. We paddled for nearly an hour, stopping along the way to listen to some great info from Matt about the scenic coastline, as well as to check out a couple of honu (sea turtles) near our kayaks (see video!).

We landed on Moku Nui (“Big Island”), about 1.6 miles from our launch point in Kailua, as Moku Iki (“Small Island”) has no beach. Both islands are seabird sanctuaries, and most of the interior of Moku Nui is roped off for this reason.

We left the kayaks on the beach and took a little tour along the lava rock perimeter on the south side of the island. We saw several nesting wedge-tailed shearwaters, and learned a bit about these amazing sea birds from our guide: Their diet consists of 60 percent fish, and they can dive up to 216 feet into the sea to catch them. They are monogamous, forming pair bonds that last several years. The male and female select the nest site and dig the hole to create the nest together. They lay only one egg per season, and the ones that nest here will fly from the Marshall Islands to do so. Their trip takes a few weeks, covering close to 2,700 miles, during which they fly non-stop, sleep with their eyes open (part of their brain shuts off), and drink sea water which they filter through a gland in their beak.

We enjoyed the views of Moku Iki and Lanikai from our walk, and inspected some tide pools here and there. We took a dip in the Oahu version of the “Queen’s Bath,” a larger tide pool about six feet deep that is filled at high tide. It has a higher salinity and was thought by the royals to aid in good health and add years to your life. We already feel decades younger! (If only.)

After our tour, we enjoyed lunch on the beach, followed by a swim. Snorkeling was attempted, but it was unfortunately too sandy to see clearly. The waves patterns were really interesting, breaking in both directions which allowed the surfers to surf back and forth across the beachfront.

Once we were all ready, we packed up our kayaks and headed back into the ocean. We paddled toward Lanikai to get a close-up view of “one of the most beautiful beaches in North America” (as rated by travel magazines) and made our way along the coast back to Kailua. Although the water was a bit more rough than our trip out, the return trip (thankfully) didn’t take quite as long since the wind was at our back.

This kayak tour is one of the best adventures we’ve had to date, and we would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Oahu. We had an incredible time and learned more than we expected. Having never ocean kayaked before, we were happy with our accomplishment and are now confident that we can go out on our own, which we are eager to do.

Me ke aloha pumehana (with warm regards),




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